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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Library

By Frank Dempster Sherman (1860–1916)

GIVE me the room whose every nook

Is dedicated to a book.

Two windows will suffice for air

And grant the light admission there;

One looking to the south, and one

To speed the red, departing sun.

The eastern wall from frieze to plinth

Shall be the Poet’s labyrinth,

Where one may find the lords of rhyme

From Homer’s down to Dobson’s time;

And at the northern side a space

Shall show an open chimney-place,

Set round with ancient tiles that tell

Some legend old and weave a spell

About the firedog-guarded seat,

Where one may dream and taste the heat:

Above, the mantel should not lack

For curios and bric-à-brac,—

Not much, but just enough to light

The room up when the fire is bright.

The volumes on this wall should be

All prose and all philosophy,

From Plato down to those who are

The dim reflections of that star;

And these tomes all should serve to show

How much we write—how little know;

For since the problem first was set

No one has ever solved it yet.

Upon the shelves toward the west

The scientific books shall rest;

Beside them, History; above,—

Religion,—hope, and faith, and love:

Lastly, the southern wall should hold

The story-tellers, new and old;

Haroun al Raschid, who was truth

And happiness to all my youth,

Shall have the honored place of all

That dwell upon this sunny wall,

And with him there shall stand a throng

Of those who help mankind along

More by their fascinating lies

Than all the learning of the wise.

Such be the library; and take

This motto of a Latin make

To grace the door through which I pass:

Hic habitat Felicitas!